Here’s my question: Do we really need right/left field umpires in the postseason?
I’m sure it’s confirmation bias or whatever, but I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve thought, “God, I’m glad we have that guy down the line.” But I can think of about 5 instances in which they’ve made blatantly terrible calls that were obvious to the naked eye (Maier, Phil Cuzzi last year, Berkman’s homer last night, etc).
What is the point?
– Ryan, comments section.
Good question. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to learn that the presence outfield umpires for the playoffs and All-Star Game are some sort of make-good for a crappy travel schedule in the umpire’s union contract with Major League Baseball or something, because they really don’t seem to serve much productive purpose out there.
I believe it was Ron Darling on last night’s broadcast who pointed out that the right-field umpire actually had a worse perspective for Berkman’s non-homer than the umps at first and home, since he had to spin later to follow the ball’s flight and so had a tougher time seeing the ball tail foul.
And truth is, if no umpire at any level ever works the right- and left-field lines until he gets to the Major League postseason or All-Star Games, no one charged with the task is going at it with much practice. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a massively different skill set than some of the ones involved in umping the corner bases, but, you know, new angle, new perspective, different thing.
I kind of like the novelty of it, in the same way I like celebratory bunting on Opening Day, but it does seem a bit pointless. Especially if they’re not going to get calls right with any frequency.